Reed Construction Services LLC — Beware: Con-artist. Do not hire this man!
My wife & I hired John Van Witbeck of Reed Construction Services LLC to remodel our kitchen in the spring of 2008. The scope of the project included the removal of a patio door in the den, replacing that door with two windows that were removed from the kitchen. A door replaced the area where the windows were. The project also included the demolition of cabinets, installation of a tile floor, tile back splash, re-sheet rock the ceiling, install 4 can/recessed lights, build an island, build a pantry, stain/install vent hood/fan and take out and stain/install 2 interior doors.
The project started back on the 23rd on May and proceeded at a slow grueling pace. We were told that it would only take 2 weeks to complete everything, and that the longest we would have to wait would be for the countertops which would arrive about 3 weeks after the cabinets were installed. Well instead of completing the work as discussed, prior to the cabinets arriving the ceiling, walls, and tile floor were not complete. The heavy cabinets were delivered and he placed them in the kitchen on top of the wet and newly laid tiles which resulted in tiles buckling and shifting. He also put in the wrong grout. The grout was supposed to be tinted sanded floor grout, but instead he took it upon himself to lay down white unsanded grout that is meant for back splashes. This is not the only issue with the floor. The tiles around the steps leading to the basement, hallway, bathroom and dining room were laid improperly and thus had to be taken up and re-laid. The ceiling had numerous gaps between the walls and the actual ceiling. When he mudded the ceiling and primed it he missed at least 6 screws, which showed through. The pantry area was not finished, as there is a large gap between it and the overhead soffet.
The outside of our house was also left in disarray. The windows that he moved out of the kitchen and put in the den were not installed properly. The windows were set to far back and not wrapped. This alone would not be a big deal except for the fact that he ran the siding up to high that even if I had the windows wrapped the only place for water to go would be down behind the siding causing severe damage in the future. The door that was installed in place of the windows in the kitchen was not installed properly as it is not square causing the door to not close properly. The underside of the door is also not protected from the elements which in turn will cause water intrusion. The steps that he built are not to code and secured to the house via two screws right through the siding. This has caused the siding to crack and for yet another place for water to get into the house and cause the wood frame to rot and mold to grow.
The follow is an exert from our new contractor that came to our house after we fired John Van Witbeck to assess the damage and give us a quote to finish/fix the job.
“It is of my professional opinion that the contractor you hired to do work on your home has performed substandard work that is not in compliance with state or local building codes.
I observed a set of vinyl windows previously installed within a wooden sash from the original window that they replaced that was moved to the living room and reinstalled as a whole unit. The vinyl/wood unit was set out of level did not operate properly. I had a difficult time operating the windows and noticed that they didn’t seat correctly or shut tight. On the exterior, the vinyl siding was improperly installed as the top row of siding that met the J channel was not dimpled so that it would stay affixed to the J channel and keep water from getting behind the siding. The J channel was also attached to the front of the window sill, not underneath it which would also cause considerable water damage throughout the wall directly below the window.
The house owner asked me to remove the drywall directly under the window to check for proper insulation. Under the drywall, I found another layer of drywall then the three stud bays directly below the window. Two of the bays were partially filled with what appeared to be used insulation and the third was filled with engineered flooring foam that is typically used in the installation of that type of floor. None of the three bays were in compliance with code.
The rear door at the kitchen is set out of level causing the door to close improperly.
At the rear door, there is a set of steps built which is not in compliance with code and has no railing. The steps are attached directly to the vinyl siding and has cracked the siding.
I advised the homeowner to seek the consult of the local building inspector to perform a check on the electrical in the kitchen as she was unsure if an actual electrician performed that work.See Top 10 Worst Companies in Windsor, WI
The work in general was shoddy and will require reworking to ensure that it remains in good condition for any period of time.”
Not only did Reed Construction Services LLC use the old floor padding for insulation under our window, they also stuffed it into areas around the new door in our kitchen (see picture). We found this while we were fixing the damage to our home. We have since insulated properly ourselves.
We contacted the city of Columbus building inspector Brad Marcouiller #934083 and asked him about the code for insulation in the exterior walls of a residential property. He stated it has to be rated R19. The padding John Van Witbeck shoved in our walls is rated at no more then R5. This would be a code violation.
As for the interior doors that we purchased for this project, he has taken them, along with our vent hood, and we have no idea where they are. He also told us that he did a lot of work with the Habitat for Humanity restore in Milwaukee and that he would bring all of our old cabinets, patio door, counter tops and lights to them as a donation from us. We have since found out that he did nothing of the sort. He took those items and sold them to a person on another project he was working on. He also stole from our home 4 tubes of clear caulk and one bucket of type one adhesive. All of this is in addition to the two solid wood interior doors and a wood vent hood.
He has also damaged our electric radiant in floor heating. During the writing of the contract we informed him multiple times and reminded him many times there after that we have radiant heat. Instead of using short screws he installed the dura rock to our floor (we have also found out since this wasn't necessary to even install) and sheet rock to our ceiling using 2 inch screws which has partially severed at least one of the heating coils. We know this because on August 20, 2008 we had an electrician come to our house and perform a continuity test on the kitchen heating. He says the test shows there is a cut in the wire, but do to the fact that the ceiling and floor are completed we are unable to locate the damage to the wiring. Since the kitchen has no heat we run the risk of having pipes freeze in the winter and causing even more damage to our home.
We have tried to contact Mr. Van Witbeck but our certified letter was returned to us after multiple attempts to deliver by the U.S. Post Office. We have called the two phone numbers he gave us and they have both been disconnected.
We are also unsure of where his company is located or where he is even residing. These are the only two address we have for him.
6505 Lake Road, Windsor WI 53598
118 Antique Lane, DeForest, WI 53532
We filed a complaint with the state of Wisconsin. The state was finally able to get information back from him in which he finally provided receipts. The part that stood out the most was a receipt (see picture) from 10:28 p.m. Friday June 13, 2008 for Rodeside Grill for 3 Bud Lights and 3 Bacardi's. Along with him expecting us to pay for his drinking he also sent the state receipts from the grocery store and numerous gas bills no where near our home.
The letter he wrote to the state was hard to follow, not professionally written, full of typos and contradicted emails written between John Van Witbeck and us prior to signing the contract. He even provided copies of these emails to the state of Wisconsin.
We also know another family in the town we lived in who had hired Reed Construction Services LLC/John Van Witbeck to do work on their home. They had him do a bathroom remodel. He was actually working on their home while working on our kitchen. They also ran into many issues with this contractor. They had to remove all the marble tile he installed because it wasn't installed to properly. Instead of a cement step leading to their new shower/bathtub he used wood. He was also working in their home without a plumbing license.
Thankfully I knew the wife from a past business relationship and it was nice to find another family in town who we could relate to and sympathize with.
We are writing this letter because we don't want another family to go through what we and the other family went through last year. Please be careful when hiring a contractor to do work on your home. We found this contractor online and would never use the internet for that purpose again. We have since found a wonderful and reliable contractor. He is from the town we live in. Before hiring him we asked around town, our neighbors, the post office etc and called local businesses asking who they would suggest for a reliable contractor. They all gave praising reviews of him and we hired him and have haven't looked back.
PLEASE ask around town, ask neighbors, family members, your postal clerks, bank teller before you hire someone. Do not trust what you find online. Con-artists and frauds take advantage of people online. Beware!